Distribution patterns of soluble salts and gypsum in soils under large-scale irrigation agriculture in Central Asia

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Soil salinization is a serious problem in the arid and semi-arid regions of Central Asia. To address the problems, we analyzed the dynamics and distribution patterns of salts in both rice-based and cotton-based cropping fields in selected farms of southern Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan with special emphasis on the dynamics of gypsum, which had a lower solubility than Na salts, as an index of water-movement regimes in irrigated fields. Most of the rice-based plots and some of the cotton-based plots exhibited no surface accumulation of soluble salts or gypsum because of repeated washing by a huge amount of irrigation water in the former or comfortable drainage in the latter. These soils are probably free from the risk of secondary salinization under present conditions and management practices. In contrast, uncultivated plots near canals accumulate both soluble salts and gypsum in the surface soil layers, and these salts would not be leached out without a drastic change to a predominantly downward pattern of water movement. In the intermediate stages in terms of soil salinization, some soils accumulated substantial amounts of soluble salts in surface layers but relatively low amounts of gypsum. In this case, periodic irrigation could have washed out most of the gypsum and soluble salts in a downward direction and, consequently, it is possible to leach out the accumulated soluble salts by applying additional irrigation water if necessary. However, there were some cases in which soils accumulated large amounts of gypsum in surface layers as well as soluble salts, suggesting that irrigation/drainage is generally insufficient to remove gypsum with a lower solubility and that these profiles are dominated by an overall upward movement of water. For these soils, drainage facilities should be improved to ensure the efficient leaching of accumulated salts on cropping. Thus, the condition of irrigated plots in terms of the direction of water movement and resulting salt regimes can be well understood from the distribution patterns of both soluble salts (or cations) and gypsum.


  • Soil Science and Plant Nutrition

    Soil Science and Plant Nutrition 53(2), 150-161, 2007-04-01

    Japanese Society of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition

References:  18

Cited by:  6


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